*Day five* – we spent the morning in Stanley on the Falkland Islands, a bizarre mix of Victorian cottages with a New Zealand village feel and quintessentially English flower gardens ablaze with bright daffodils.
There were two excursions on offer, a guided history walk with Jim that took in the many monuments along the waterfront and ended at the small but packed museum or a “pub crawl” with Colin who was celebrating his birthday. I decided on the former, on the latter they only managed 2 pubs out of the 5 options but all seemed quite merry when we returned to the ship.
The History of the Falklands was fascinating there is so much more to learn than just the more recent conflict which really put it on the map. I would have liked more time to see some of the battle famous sights and memorials; I will just have to come back! In the afternoon we set sail towards South Georgia taking with us a British couple who are going to be working on the island for 6 months looking after the shop, museum and taking on various other tasks as required, a job they had seen in the local Penguin News.
*Day 6* – the fickle Southern Ocean is our home again for the next few days as we sail across to South Georgia. At times just a gentle swell lulling you into the next set of huge waves that make the ship toss and lurch, she has a tendency to do this during meal times seeing how many plates and bowls of soup she can spill.
On deck you can watch as the huge waves roll onwards, we have the wind behind us which is helping our progress and we have a constant entourage of birds – the ever present pintados and petrels have been joined by black browed albatross and today the magnificent wandering albatross swung in our wake, tantalising close but never quite as near as the other species. With unbelievable grace and hardly an adjustment of their wings they soar over the tumultuous seas, just skimming the waves but never getting caught out but them, as mesmerising as fire to watch. The lectures today covered Shackleton and his men along with king penguins and the seals of Antarctica.
*Day 7* – today the seas are much calmer no longer 7-8 meter waves and gale force winds but also no longer the sunshine just a hazy sea mist as we head towards the Convergence where the cold Antarctic waters meet creating a dramatic drop in both water and air temperature. This is a barrier to many species so we are unlikely to see the dolphins in our wake any more.
Yesterday the weather was very changeable with bright sunshine dispersed with squalls of snow that blew up from nowhere and disappeared as quickly, icy blasts of snow like little ball bearings and the waves whipping up blasting the foam off the tops of the waves. The slackening of the wind has reduced the numbers of birds in our wake although a few new species have been spotted including Blue and White Bellied Petrels.
This afternoon we will complete our biosecurity checks, cleaning all clothing and equipment that we intend to take on to South Georgia. At around 4.30 we sighted Shag rocks, five towering cliffs up to 70 metres poking up in the seemingly endless sea, here there were a huge number of Blue-eyed cormorants flying around and nesting on the precipitous cliffs. This means we are well on course to reach South Georgia tomorrow.
More coming soon …